Estelle Baumann is a woman of dynamic persona and carries gratitude on her sleeves. She is the director of Denizen World; expanding her business with great enthusiasm and positively. Her strong opinions inspire young women in the industry.
DutyFreeList in conversation with Estelle on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
Your current role and a short brief.
I am the Duty Free Director for DENIZEN WORLD and I also handle French-speaking travel retail accounts for the brand. Our duty free operations started 2 years ago when I joined the company. Our presence on board airlines, cruise ships and at airports now spans all 7 continents, including Antarctica.
What sparks passion in you about travel retail, travel and tourism?
T.S. Eliot said “the journey, Not the destination matters”. In that sense, travel retail is an exciting industry to be part of as it is constantly and rapidly evolving and offers a world of opportunities. Travelers are now looking for more than just products to buy. They seek experience. Being jewelry with a sense place, DENIZEN provides just that: a meaningful souvenir to reminisce Unforgettable Travel Memories so that their journey never ends even when they are back home.
Who is your women role model?
I’ve always been in awe of daring adventurers, even more so if they are women. A new generation of explorers surfaced with the millennials, with individuals choosing their own path to follow by roaming the planet. I am thinking of Jessica Nabongo, for example, who is on a quest to be the first black woman to travel to every country in the world in 18 months!
Advice for young women in your and other industries?
Don’t let obstacles undermine your will to go a step further. Step out of your comfort zone, take a side path if needed, learn new skills. Your professional life is also a journey.
What was the last gift you bought at duty free and gave someone?
I have always been attracted by maps and skylines, they are an invitation to travel. So there is no wonder that DENIZEN eventually crossed my path. The newly opened Discover Hong Kong shop at HK International Airport is a gold mine for prints of the iconic buildings of my city. I like to give all things HK, like G.O.D products, to my friends and family for them to remember me in my far away land.
Innovations that you are looking forward to in technology/ social media (foldable phones, VR, AI, BITCOIN ?)
I think VR is definitely on the way to make the act of shopping a journey in itself by providing an enhanced sense of place feeling to travelers, an immersion going beyond the product.